Rower Chris Lawrie admits he has to pinch himself in amazement when he thinks about representing Team GB at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing.
When Lawrie took his place on the start line last month, against friends he’d raced countless times before, he knew things were different.
As much as he tried to remain calm his mind was racing as he thought of Britain’s Olympic rowing heroes.
At stake was a ticket to China and a spot on Team GB’s 33-strong squad set to compete at the second summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, the competition getting underway on August 16.
In the end Lawrie came through as the winner and insists he is now geared up for the biggest competition of his life.
But the realisation of what the 17-year-old had achieved didn’t sink in straight away, and it took a phone call with his teary mum before it hit him.
“At the start line I tried not to big it up but it’s impossible not to do that because you know how important it is,” said Lawrie.
“After I didn’t really realise what had happened and my coach said ‘well done’ but it hadn’t sunk in.
“It wasn’t until I phoned my mum and she started crying that I realised and it hit me.
“I’m so happy because it was hard to qualify and I had to go up against friends and race for a place.
“It was quite hard to believe that it was one race to decide who was going to China. We do so many races against each other and then all of a sudden you have to realise how much is at stake.”
With qualification now secure Lawrie is in China looking to claim a medal for Great Britain.
And the 17-year-old is hoping that Nanjing is the first step on the road to emulating some of Britain’s biggest sporting stars.
“I definitely want to compete at the Olympics and replicate what people like Sir Steve Redgrave have done,” he added.
“My goal now is to go there and get into the top three but I’ve never been to an international tournament like that so I don’t know what to expect really.
“It will be important to get out there and make sure I stay focused and concentrate on the race.
“But after we are finished the Games will still be going on so that will be the time when I try to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the experience.
“It is really exciting and it will be the biggest competition that I’ve ever been to.”
© Sportsbeat 2014